| As the new cycle of Audubon Collaborative Grants nears, Audubon Society of Central Maryland (ASCM) shows us an innovative way to leverage the power of those funds to establish and expand sustainable programming.|
In 2017, the fatal collision of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo with a window at the home of Julie Dunlap, ASCM board member, became the catalyst for a partnership with the newly formed Safe Skies Maryland (SSM), a sub-committee of Maryland Ornithological Society’s Conservation Committee. What followed, is four years of incremental engagement resulting in expanded outreach, legislative success, and opportunities for growth that will continue to improve safe passage for birds.
The initial collaboration of ASCM and SSM in 2017 focused the breadth of their initial grant on homeowner outreach, developing a suite of educational materials and collaborating at events to get the word out. The following year, with another Collaborative Grant in hand, they added an educator kit and increased their outreach to include building owners, featuring a high-visibility retrofit demonstration site at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources headquarters.
The next two years saw two more successful proposals that added materials and resources for the Bird City Maryland initiative. In addition, a partnership with Howard Community College brought to life a new workshop tailored to architects and a collaborative monitoring program that helped the school make informed decisions on prioritizing glass treatments that would have the greatest effect on reducing collisions. And finally, funds supported the translation of all materials into Spanish, bilingual outreach efforts, and an upcoming presentation by Dr. Scott Loss of Oklahoma State University on his migratory bird window collision research, including social research into how public attitudes present barriers to addressing the problem.
ASCM and SSM have also worked together, in cooperation with Maryland Ornithological Society, Lights Out Baltimore, and Audubon, to support state-level bird-friendly buildings legislation. Concurrently, in 2020 partners advocated for a Bird-Friendly Design Standards bill in Howard County, which passed with a veto-proof majority. This is the first such county-wide legislation in the country. Funding from the Collaborative Grant was instrumental for creating a full-color fact sheet that helped explain the issue. As Carolyn Parsa, Director of SSM, puts it, “the Audubon collaboration has brought together many knowledgeable, caring, and dedicated people to work for the common goal of protecting birds from window collisions.”
For more information on SSM, contact email Carolyn Parsa or visit Safe Skies Maryland.